Historically, holidays in the UK looked a little less glamorous compared to the beaches of the south of France, the promenades of Cannes and Nice, and the winding roads surrounding Lake Garda. But, times are changing. Wiser travellers are shunning the overpriced flights, battles with overhead lockers, and existentially exhausting queues at passport control in favour of something rather more special. Gone are the days of the 1950s, where the only place you could buy olive oil was at the chemist’s. Now, the UK has embraced gastronomic greatness in such a way that world-beating food can be found in almost every acre of the green and pleasant land. This makes a stay within the borders of the UK ever more appealing. As a result, we’ve collected our top picks from all corners of Britain, to showcase the exceptional architecture and experiences on offer.
Cornwall and Devon now rival San Sebastian and Bilbao in how they are marching forward on culinary and cultural levels. Fishermen and restaurateurs along the coast are changing how we eat fish, having realised that our best fish always used to be sold abroad. Now some of the finest fish in the world is landing on plates up and down the country, in restaurants like The Seahorse in Dartmouth, and Restaurant Nik Boyle in Falmouth, making Cornwall an appealing choice not just for the surfers.
Nestled between lakes and trees, near the Helford River, is Lakeside Lodge. There is a quaint tranquillity about how the lodges at Trecomb are dotted around the seven spring-fed lakes, complete with rope swings and row boats, for guests to explore by air and water, rather than just by land. The guest testimonials speak of ‘fairy tales in the making’, with Cornish cream teas on arrival, and Swedish Baths on the decks outside. And, when you’ve had your fill of the peace and quiet of nature’s bounty, the site sits just outside the harbour town of Falmouth, where the aforementioned boom in all-things food related reaches as far as a crowd-funded seafood tapas bar.
Heading east from the Riviera takes you along 400 miles of magnificent South Coast landscape, past the dramatic cliffs of the Jurassic Coast, and two national parks, to fan favourite, Brighton. For this fantastic city, we’ve chosen the famed Artist Residence. Brighton is the artistic hub and cultural centre of the South East, and this fantastic hotel certainly exemplifies this. The city can be perfectly accessed from this creative home away from home.
The location for the annual naked bike ride, with its underbelly documented by Graham Greene, the city of Brighton is colourful and characterful. Fittingly, so is the Artist Residence hotel. In fact, it is said that if you could condense the spirit of the town into one building, the Artist Residence Brighton would be it. It was born of an ad posted in the local paper, which offered artists free board, in return for decorating the rooms. Today, the Artists Residence has become more of a clan, with outposts in Penzance and Oxford among others. However, the first was Brighton, and each room has its own identity. They all have been designed by local artists, making the many rooms completely unique. As well as this, the hotel boasts one of the most interesting bars in the city, suitably named ‘The Fix’, and it ticks all the boxes.
If you trace your way back up towards the middle of the country, you’ll meet the countryside of the Cotswolds, replete with rolling hills and low-beamed country pubs. It wouldn’t be an appropriate selection of top staycations, without an unbelievably countryside building, and Thyme hits this nail well and truly on the head. In the heart of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty lies this family-owned hotel, deemed by Turnbull in The Times to offer ‘The Most Stylish Lunch in Britain’. The family behind it describe their home as ‘A Village Within A Village’, where guests are hosted in a collection of restored, historic buildings in a peaceful hamlet environment.
The owner, Caryn Hibbert, has turned their attention to everything a guest could want. What started as a cookery school has evolved into a slow-food haven, with a hotel, restaurant, spa, farm and boutique. It’s clear here that every detail has been thought of, from hand-painted crockery, to hand-drawn maps to guide guests on walks through fields to local pubs. The result is a quintessentially British staycation that is certainly welcomed.
Heading north, almost as far as you can go, you will reach the Isle of Skye, known for its remote and undeniable beauty, and now its fantastic isolated lodges, like Skye Eyrie. Skye has a mythical air to it, from the so-called ‘fairy pools’ of Glen Brittle, filled with crystal clear water from the Cuillin, to the Old Man of Storr, which was used as the film set for the land of the giants in Roald Dahl’s BFG. Though this year has featured far too much talk of isolation, our chosen property in Scotland offers isolation of a very different kind. Peeping out from under the craggy mass of the great Trotternish Ridge sits Skye Eyrie, a beautifully crafted escape.
The property itself is set over two buildings, offering two double bedrooms and two bathrooms, with living space perfect for a comfortable long stay. Unlike the other properties we’ve chosen, this provides the option for a wholehearted escape, with time to recharge, and time to take in the exceptional scenery Scotland has to offer. The main beauty spots such as Old Man of Storr, Lealt Falls, and Kilt Rock are within easy reach by car from this private den.
Given the exceptional natural beauty, unrivalled restaurants, and sheer options of architecturally unique properties, we at Kobu feel the Staycation ought to be given much more attention. Whilst avid fans of exploration abroad, it’s important to understand the bounty of our immediate area. Many of the locations across the UK are still inherently local and remain untouched by mass tourism, providing a unique experience not found at many of the classic tourist destinations in Greece or Spain. Enjoy a weekend away at any of our top choices, or stay for longer to embrace the area.